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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 232 pages of information about The Penalty.

“That,” said Wilmot with the faith of a fanatic in his god, “is because you’ve never really cared.”

“And besides,” she said, “I have what I am pleased to call my career.  And ’Down to Gehenna and up to the throne he travels fastest who travels alone.’”

“True,” said Wilmot, “he arrives soonest, but all tired out, and the house is empty, and there are no children in it, and only paid servants.  And it may be very showy to live for fame, but it isn’t good enough.  When we turned that bust you began into mud pies, we did a wise thing.  We amused ourselves, and we said the last word on art as opposed to life.  The best thing in this world is to be children and to have children—­and the next best thing is nowhere.”

“Would you,” said Barbara, and her eyes twinkled a little, “really rather be a parent than a Praxiteles?”

“It looks to me,” said Wilmot sadly, “sometimes—­in moments of despondency—­as if the honorable gentleman was never going to be either.  But then again,” and he spoke in a strong voice, “I believe in my heart that after you’ve done handling the book of life and admiring the binding, you’ll open it at chapter one, and read, ’Young Wilmot Allen—­’”

“Lunch-time,” said Barbara, and she rose from the comfortable chair with sharp decision.  “I vote for a thick steak, being famished.  Is my hair all mussy?”

“No,” said Wilmot dejectedly.  “I wish it was.  And I wish it was my fault—­and yours.”

IV

“I’ve done enough for you more than once,” said the legless man; “you’re big enough and strong enough to work, but you’re a born loafer.”

“I had a job.”  The speaker, a shabby, unshaven man with a beastly face, whined dolefully.  “And I done right; but I got the sack.”

“What was the job and why were you sacked?”

“I got a job as a artist’s model.  I sits in a chair while the lady makes a statue out of my face, and then she gives me money, and I goes and spends it.  The third day she gives me more money, and tells me I looks too well fed and happy to suit her, and sends me away.”

The legless man was astonished to learn that his heart was beating with unaccustomed force and rapidity.  “Who was the artist?”

“She’s a lady name o’ Ferris.”

The legless man steeled his face to express nothing.  “Ferris,” he commented briefly.

“Say,” said the unshaven man, “what’s all that about the devil falling out of heaven and fetching up in hell?”

“Why?”

“That’s how she says I looks.  And she wants to make a statue of him, just when he comes to and sits up, and looks up and sees how far he’s fell.  She says my face has all the sorrers and horrors of the world in it.”

“And then, you fool,” said the legless man, “you spoiled her game by high living.  You ate and you drank till you looked like a paranoiac bulldog asleep in the sun.  Where was the lady’s studio?”

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